Happy New Year everyone! Continuing the series on lay figures...
Painters before the era of photography often traveled with miniature lay figures that they carried around in boxes, along with finely made miniature costumes.
Portrait painters could arrive at a client's palace and paint the head of their subject from observation, quickly sketching their actual costume. The miniature lay figure came in handy to help them finish the portrait at leisure.
Here’s a portable lay figure set from 1769 (Collection LACMA). The figure is only 11 and a half inches tall, made of wood with metal screws.
The set contains an assortment of tiny costumes, made from very delicate fabrics. Thin fabrics were required to get the folds and wrinkles in the proper scale.
Sculptors and ceiling painters used miniature lay figures for angels and saints. These jointed dolls could be draped, and the fabric could be wetted to make it follow the form. Or it could be soaked in plaster to make it take spiraling folds that hardened into permanent form.